Gahanna has hired Michael Blackford as deputy director of planning and development.

Gahanna has hired Michael Blackford as deputy director of planning and development.

Blackford began the job March 24, filling a position that has been vacant since September.

He will be paid a salary of $70,411, with benefits valued at $22,192, for a total package of $92,603 annually.

Blackford most recently worked as a planner in St. Augustine, Fla. He previously was employed as a planning and zoning manager for almost 10 years in St. Johns County in Florida.

"I am excited about the opportunity to be a part of the city of Gahanna development team," Blackford said.

Development director Anthony Jones said Blackford would lead the Planning and Zoning Commission's efforts and said he's a great addition to the city.

"I am very excited to welcome Michael to the Gahanna team," Jones said. "He is going to be a great addition to the experienced professionals who work to serve our business community."

Jones said Blackford's expertise in planning would help guide the city's development efforts to ensure that the community experiences sustainable growth in the future.

He will assist Jones with the planning and implementation of economic development strategies and programs for both internal and external customers of the city, Jones said.

Blackford also will be responsible for coordinating with the director on planning and for effective economic and community growth strategies to attract new and redeveloped residential, commercial and industrial development, resulting in increased income revenues to the city.

Blackford has bachelor's degrees in urban studies/affairs from Cleveland State University.

Deputy development director Leah Evans left the city in September to take the position of director of homeownership at Homeport.